Keith Thurman may not be a marquee name like some of his past opponents, but a victory against the American fighter on July 20 will be significant for Manny Pacquiao.
Boxing journalist Nissi Icasiano said that Thurman, the reigning WBA “super” welterweight champion, isn’t on the level of Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Oscar dela Hoya or Miguel Cotto.
But he pointed out that the champion from Clearwater, Fla., is bigger, younger, and theoretically stronger than Pacquiao.
"The very best of Manny Paquiao was a couple of years ago . . . The Manny Pacquiao that we loved and adored, the one who flattened Ricky Hatton with a single left hook, or the slugger that made Oscar de la Hoya quit on his stool ay matagal nang nagpaalam," Icasiano said.
“We have to commend Pacquiao, because it's an uphill battle for him. He's fighting a natural 147-pound fighter, a fighter in his physical prime. He hasn't fought anyone (of) this caliber since he was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez.”
A victory over Thurman, Icasiano said, will be big for Pacquiao.
“At 40, Pacquiao can engineer an upset win over Thurman, a champion bigger, stronger, 10 years younger. Under these circumstances with his age and the size disadvantage, Pacquiao won't have a more impressive victory if he pulls this off on July 20," said Icasiano.
If he fights smart, Pacquiao will be able to handle anything that Thurman throws at him, said another fight expert.
“I don't think Manny Pacquiao will make the mistake of catching the overhand right flush,” said boxing referee Danrex Tapdasan.
“Manny Pacquiao has developed the style wherein he will deliver the punch but his defensive move is already programmed after delivering the punch.”
Fight analyst Ed Tolentino said that in his previous bouts, Pacquiao always shuffled his feet and stayed away from getting directly hit; that agility, even at 40, will be key for him.
“I think Pacquiao will handle the power, more so because PacMan will be moving in and out, he won't be a stationary target for Thurman's power shots,” Tolentino said.
He also pointed out that Thurman’s punching power has waned in recent years, which gives Pacquiao an advantage.
“[Thurman] started out as a helluva puncher, but he has not really scored a knockout win since 2015, when he stopped journeyman Luis Collazo. Thurman has failed to stop quality fighters like Shawn Porter and Garcia,” Tolentino said.
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